Wisconsin Weather Safety & You; A New Model of Human Origins in Africa; How Do Volcanoes Respond to Glaciation?; Fate of Aquatic Pesticides

On August 23 Kurt Kotenberg from the National Weather Service in Green Bay will be here to alert, watch & warn us about “Wisconsin Weather Safety & You.”


Description:  From blizzards to tornadoes to derechos, the weather in Wisconsin can be quite active (and sometimes dangerous!) all year around. In this talk, we’ll take a detailed look at the 4-seasons weather that impacts Wisconsin- which includes severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, snow squalls, and more. We will also discuss ways to receive hazardous weather information, and what you can do to keep yourself and your family safe when hazardous weather threatens.


Bio:  Kurt Kotenberg is the Warning Coordination Meteorologist of the National Weather Service (NWS) located in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Prior to arriving in Wisconsin, Kurt worked as a forecaster at the NWS offices in Des Moines, Iowa, and Midland, Texas.  Before joining the NWS, Kurt was an (on-air) broadcast Meteorologist for four years at WEAU-TV in Eau Claire.


Kurt earned both his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science Degrees in Atmospheric Sciences from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. While in Graduate School, Kurt served as a Teaching Assistant for two years- teaching Algebra courses and a mathematics course for elementary education majors.


To continue his personal growth, Kurt earned his Master of Business Administration degree from Iowa State University in 2015, while working full-time at NWS Des Moines.  In his spare time, Kurt and his wife- who is a Special Education teacher- are kept plenty busy by their two little kids. Kurt is happy to be back in the Badger State & enjoys spending time exploring his new home in northeastern Wisconsin.


Explore More: 










On August 30 Aaron Ragsdale of Integrative Biology will speak on his research published in Nature on June 13 entitled “A Weakly Structured Stem for Human Origins in Africa.   Nature also published an overview article by Elsabé BritsA New Model of Human Origins in Africa: https://www.nature.com/articles/d44148-023-00145-9


Description: It is now well-established that our species, Homo sapiens, emerged within Africa over the past hundreds of thousands of years before dispersing across the globe. However, apart from recent genetic discoveries of recontact between Neanderthals, Denisovans and humans, there is large uncertainty about the size, structure and connectivity of human populations during those early periods. Because the fossil record from this time is sparse, we rely on genomic data from present-day and ancient individuals to reconstruct the details of past population structure.


Here, we present a recent progress in our understanding of deep human history using genetic data from geographically and genetically diverse populations. We contrast models of archaic admixture with population structure, and discuss open questions in the field of human evolutionary history and paleoanthropology.


Bio: Aaron Ragsdale is an assistant professor in the Department of Integrative Biology. His research focuses on population genetic theory and computation methods for learning about demographic and evolutionary history from genomic data.


Explore More:  In this paper, we use geographically and genetically diverse populations across Africa and Eurasia to reconstruct detailed demographic models for our species in the deep past. We find that a model that includes long-lasting population structure, with populations connected by ongoing migration, provides the best fit to the genetic data. In contrast to other recent studies, we do not find evidence for a substantial contribution from an unidentified “ghost” population within Africa (akin to Neanderthal and Denisovan contributions in Eurasia). This work is in collaboration with my former postdoc advisor Simon Gravel, at McGill University, Brenna Henn and Tim Weaver at UC Davis, and others.

Ragsdale Lab:  https://apragsdale.github.io

Study Offers New Twist in How the First Humans Evolved:  https://www.nytimes.com/2023/05/17/science/human-origins-africa.html

Did Early Humans Interbreed with a ‘Ghost’ Population?: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/premium/article/did-early-humans-interbreed-with-a-ghost-population


On September 6 we move into the new academic year with a talk on volcanoes in Chile with Sally Stevens and Pablo Moreno-Yaeger of Geosciences.


Title:  How Do Volcanoes Respond to Glaciation?


Description:  How does glaciation impact volcanic activity? The Andean Southern Volcanic Zone in Chile consists of over 30 active continental arc volcanoes, including some of the most hazardous volcanoes in the country. These volcanoes were engulfed by a large, 1-2 km thick continental ice sheet approximately ~18 thousand years ago followed by rapid deglaciation that ended ~15 thousand years ago. We present geochronological and geochemical data from volcanoes Mocho-Choshuenco and Puyehue Cordón-Caulle to investigate how these individual volcanoes responded to crustal stress changes from ice loading and unloading of the Patagonian Ice Sheet.


Bio: Pablo Moreno-Yaeger is a Chilean Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, advised by Professor Brad Singer. Pablo was born in San Bernardo, Chile and graduated from Universidad de Chile in Geology. After graduation, Pablo taught undergraduate Geoscience courses in southern Chile. He moved to Madison and earned his Master’s in Geoscience at UW-Madison.


Bio: Sally Stevens is a Ph.D. student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, studying igneous petrology and geochronology with Dr. Brad Singer. She earned her Bachelor’s in Geology at University of California Santa Barbara and worked at the USGS California Volcano Observatory prior to earning her Master’s in Geoscience at UW-Madison.


Explore More:

Ice Forcing in Arc Magma Plumbing Systems (IF-AMPS): https://ui.adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2021AGUFM.V14B..01S/abstract


Evolution of magma storage conditions spanning the last glacial-interglacial transition, Mocho-Choshuenco Volcanic Complex, Chile:





Hope to see you soon — in person, by YouTube livestream or by Zoom — at Wednesday Nite @ The Lab.


Tom Zinnen
Biotechnology Center & Division of Extension, Wisconsin 4-H



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